Aer Lingus & Iberia Order A321XLR

Filed Under: Aer Lingus, Iberia

Read more: In the first few days we’ve seen A321XLR orders from Qantas, JetstarAer Lingus, IberiaFrontier, JetSMART, and Wizz AirAmerican, and JetBlueShould passengers dread the A321XLR, though?

Yesterday Airbus formally launched the A321XLR, which is the new longest range single aisle plane in the world, and which I think will be immensely popular with airlines.

Airbus A321XLR

The A321XLR will launch in 2023 and will have a range of 5,400 miles, giving it 15% more range than the A321LR, which has already been popular with airlines. Furthermore, the plane has 30% lower fuel burn than comparable planes in the past, referring to the Boeing 757.

Well, orders for this new plane seem to be rolling in.

IAG, the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling, has just placed an order for this plane. IAG has announced their intention to purchase 14 A321XLRs, including eight for Iberia and six for Aer Lingus (this wasn’t their only order — they also signed a letter of intent to acquire 200 737 MAXs).

Aer Lingus A321XLR

So, what will Aer Lingus and Iberia do with these planes?

  • The A321XLR will be Iberia’s first narrow body long haul aircraft, and they will use it to launch new transatlantic routes, and to increase frequencies in key markets
  • The A321XLR will allow Aer Lingus to launch more transatlantic routes beyond the US East Coast and Canada

Aer Lingus A321XLR

Interestingly Aer Lingus is about to take delivery of their very first A321LR. They have 14 of these planes on order, and will use them both to expand, and also to replace their leased 757s. While this plane has a shorter ranger than the A321XLR, it’s more than sufficient for flying from Ireland to the US East Coast.

This is a really awesome, logical aircraft order for both of these airlines. In the case of Iberia, the smallest plane they currently have for long haul flights is the A330, so they’ll be able to add service to several additional transatlantic markets.

Just to give you a sense of the possibilities with this plane, here’s the A321XLR’s rough range from Madrid:

And here’s the A321XLR’s rough range from Dublin:

As you can see, for Iberia the A321XLR can fly just about anywhere in the US or Canada except the West Coast, while for Aer Lingus the A321XLR can fly anywhere in the US or Canada.

This should open up some pretty incredible growth opportunities for both airlines, and I can’t wait to see what they do with these planes. Unfortunately we’re going to have to wait another four years to find out.

The A321XLR really is going to be a game changer for airlines, in my opinion. The A350 and 787 were a game changer in the industry, when compared to the 747 — they allowed airlines to operate long haul flights on lower capacity airplanes at lower costs.

The same will be true of the A321XLR, even compared to the 787 and A350. There are plenty of markets that worked on planes like the 757, 767, etc., but that otherwise just weren’t feasible. The A321XLR will once again make these routes practical.

What do you make of the Aer Lingus and Iberia A321XLR order?

  1. Speaking on Aer Lingus, have to say it does suit their business structure. I can see a bunch of North American routes opening up for them. Please Please, Please, just make these planes comfortable!

  2. Do you think that there is actual growth that is occurring from this new type (A321XLR) or are we just going to see the disappearance of the hub and spoke model as these aircraft’s are now able to fly a small O&D market

  3. Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised to see routes like DFW-MAD or IAH-DUB open up thanks to this aircraft. I’m kind of surprised that none of these will go towards Level. If you’re going to do low cost long haul, this would be the jet to do it with IMO.

  4. As much as this is good for conectivity, I don’t like the idea of long haul trips in single aisle planes.

    What will be te future of business class seats for these type of planes? Where will all aisle access go?

  5. OTOH while the 787 and A350 did open the door for long distance thin routes, they are still wide body jets. I personally don’t look forward to spending 10-15 hours in a narrow body jet. However YMMV

  6. Game-changer? More like misery machine. You really want to sit in this small plane on a flight from LA to Dublin or from Denver to Madrid? I sure don’t.

    This plane might be popular with the airlines. It’s gonna be hated by passengers.

  7. What about JetBlue? This will allow them to go much further into Europe from JFK or BOS than London.

  8. Great news, Aer Lingus are already a great westbound option from Europe given the US pre-clearance at Dublin which saves so much time on arrival. I’m really looking forward to seeing which markets these planes open up.

    Given that Airbus have made such leaps and bounds in cabin noise reduction, air quality and pressure with the A350 I hope that will be transferred to the A321XLR and the experience will be unmatched.

  9. I presume they will use them to expand in the US/Mexico and maybe Central America/ Colombia/ Brazil. Another possible, but more unlikely, scenario would be operating ex-minor Spanish markets during peak season (AGP/PMI-JFK on summer), but almost certainly not BCN.

    As much as I am keen to know what IB will do with these, I am probably scared than anything. Their short-haul planes are dreadful. They have some of the worst legroom in Europe (if not the worst) and their slimline seats make 3 hour flights feel like an eternity. Being the cheapos they are I am sure they won’t even install proper business class seats. I just hope the Y seat pitch and padding are better than what they currently are.

  10. The XLR will NOT hit the west coast from Europe it will not make it much further than ORD. The 4700nm listed as the range is still air. For an operational range take about 20% of of that. That makes its west bound range a max of 3900, maybe in the winter with stronger winds could be be more like 3500 nm.

  11. I’m hoping someone (JetBlue?) uses it to launch East Coast to Hawaii flights. I know they codeshare with HA, but one flight a day from JFK and BOS isn’t enough, and I refuse to fly UA out of EWR.

  12. I would personally hate any flight over 5 hours in any of narrow body but 90% of the traveling public would have no clue what they’re travelling on until they board the plane. Maybe with Iberia’s new order they would keep their JNB service but now with an a321 instead of a330.

  13. Thanks for sharing that range map. I’m a frequent flyer in the SEA-MAD route. There are no direct flights and l always have to take connections that make my journey 4-7 hours longer than a hypothetical direct flight. Thinking that that direct route could hardly be served with a narrow-body aircraft is insane.

  14. I will be very curious to know how they configure these planes. The dense narrow body configs we see today are somewhat tolerable for 1-3 domestic hops during the daytime. They’re useless for transcontinental red-eyes. Traversing 4-8 time zones changes the way passengers interact with aircraft. Sleeping, eating, and using the restroom become much more important.

    The only reasonably comfortable narrow body I’ve been on in recent years was an internationally-configured JAL 737-800. 145 seats.

    Compare this to other “domestically” configured 737-800s
    Delta: 160
    American: 172
    Southwest: 175
    KLM: 186
    Ryanair: 189

    Where I think these A321XLRs could really shine are for connecting European cities to the Middle East and South Asia. These could be a huge threat to the ME3 if secondary cities can bypass their hubs. These would have superior schedules, frequency, and better opportunities for onward connections throughout Europe.

  15. Could these planes use from East coast open the door for a few more nonstops from the west coast to more European destinations for the bigger players? They don’t seem to be ordering them now but I wonder. Being one that flies out of LAX and SFO options are pretty limited NS comparing to East coast, especially one world. Just a thought(hope)

  16. EI has used a narrow body plane (757-200) before for long haul routes, like DUB-IAD, for example. So it isn’t like there hasn’t been some sort of precedence for flights like this. For some people, a few extra hours on longer flights than that might be acceptable, especially if the price is right.

  17. I guess IB will start to fly to NE Brazil again. They briefly served FOR and REC with Airbus 343 some years back on a triangular route but the route was not economical. With an A321XLR they might well launch MAD-REC/FOR/SSA/NAT or even secondary cities in Brazil that are not in the NE like BSB/CNF and VCP. If IB launches these flights this might be a real nightmare for TP. Until AF/KL launched FOR they were virtually alone in the Europe/NE Brazil market (DE links FRA to FOR and REC once a week each only).
    Other markets for IB are new cities in the US, as well as adjusting capacities to the Caribbean and existing US routes like BOS and IAD….

  18. I would love to see Iberia fly out to MCO and perhaps some other AA hubs and some Western US cities.
    For Latin America I guess they can fly to secondary cities, since I think all the capitals and major cities are already covered on the IB network

  19. I don’t agree that long flights in single aisle airplanes are bad. It all depends of the configuration that the company chooses. As I live in Ireland, I use Aer Lingus from time to time
    and I can guarantee that the A320’s seat comfort and leg room are much better than several
    wide bodies from another companies, I’m tall and big, 1,87 and 140kg, and I feel much more
    comfortable on the Aer Lingus A320 than on KLM 777-300 for example(Economy class on
    both obviously). To be honest the Aer Lingus A320 is one of the best economy class I’ve ever flown, and I flew a lot in my life, more than 300 times for work or leisure and many transcontinental flights.

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